I’m a wayfaring writer and editor at The Wall Street Journal, and a photographer. Previously I was a Page One editor at the Journal responsible for long-form narrative and investigative projects such as this one.
♦ I’ve lived and worked as a journalist in New York, New Delhi, Hong Kong and small-town America, where my family published a century-old local newspaper.
♦ It’s inevitable you’d be invited to follow me on Twitter. @jessepesta
♦ After more than a half-decade as a Page One editor at The Wall Street Journal, I returned to reporting in late 2013. This involves welcome travel after years in a cubicle. See, for instance, this piece on Cambodia’s handmade bamboo trains. In the early 2000s I was the WSJ’s correspondent in New Delhi, India. Among other things I covered the September 11, 2001, terror attacks from Islamabad, Pakistan.
♦ In six years on Page One, I edited many of the WSJ’s most ambitious long-form reporting projects. In WSJ lingo these are the Page One “leders.” I edited and shaped the online presentation of “The Lobotomy Files,” an extraordinary reporting achievement by Michael M. Phillips. I was a primary editor of the Journal’s book on Pope Francis. Aside from special projects like these, I edited a bounty of narratives and investigations, and of course “A-Heds.”
♦ As an editor I worked with brilliant reporters on stories including:
Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s embrace of Islam at his mother’s urging. Fresh doubts about the veracity of Truman Capote’s masterwork “In Cold Blood.” The discovery that, after World War II, America lobotomized thousands of its veterans. Facebook’s outing of two gay students in Texas. A man who got a federal criminal record because he mishandled a clogged toilet. An Indian woman’s six-year descent into all-but-incurable tuberculosis.
♦ Not to mention stories about:
Vietnam's bride kidnappers. America’s housing crisis. Stretch limos that are too long. Midwives who murder babies. A Chinese family’s nightmare. FBI informants who snitch on their girlfriends. Getting naked in Vermont.
♦ In early 2013 I edited the WSJ’s powerful portraits of the young woman who was raped in New Delhi, and her close friend who was with her during the attack. These two profiles reveal more about India than almost anything else you will find on the subject.
♦ I edited the investigation into the global threat of “extremely drug resistant” XDR tuberculosis. This award-winning project exposed the risk of drug-resistant TB in the U.S. and on Europe’s doorstep. It revealed intellectual flaws in the World Health Organization’s strategy to defeat TB. And ultimately it forced policy change in India that might well save hundreds of thousands of lives, provided India follows through on its promises.
♦ In my earlier reporting life, I wrote about:
The world’s fastest ocean liner. An unusual parade in the American midwest. India’s out-of-date doorknob technology. The slaughter of Nepal’s god-king and royal family. Great Britain’s unhappy mercenaries.
♦ In 2009 I traveled as a photographer to Cambodia for a project on slavery for Marie Claire.
♦ Photographic work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast, dearly departed Newsweek and other publications, and has been exhibited at the Exit Art gallery, New York; Photographic Gallery, Front St., New York; Chrystie Street Gallery, Chrystie St., New York; ABC No Rio, Rivington St., New York; the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts; and the Edward Hopper House, Nyack, N.Y.
♦ The most recent photography can be seen at Starve Hollow Road, named for the “hollow” (in local parlance) where I grew up.
♦ For all your Jesse Pesta news, there’s always Twitter @jessepesta. Meanwhile:
♦ December 2013: After six years as a Page One editor, I returned to reporting for the WSJ as a traveling writer and editor with a focus on South Asia.
♦ October 15, 2013: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists honors the Journal’s reporting on TB’s resurgence with the Daniel Pearl prize, its highest award.
♦ July 2013: The Journal’s Page One series on privacy, “Watched,” is honored with the APME’s First Amendment reporting citation for large newspapers.
♦ May 16, 2013: The WSJ privacy project, “Watched,” receives the Deadline Club’s Public Service Award. The Journal’s tuberculosis investigation receives the science award.
Describing the TB project, the judges said: “The series has the potential to save many lives around the world ~ possibly our own.”
♦ October 2012-Spring 2013: Served as master’s program adviser for investigative reporting at the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s graduate journalism program for the 2012-13 academic year.
♦ April 16, 2012: “The End of Privacy,” The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the erosion of privacy in the U.S., is named a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in explanatory reporting.
♦ January 2012: The “Federal Offenses” project, exposing the surprising ways in which little-known laws can snare unwary Americans, wins a top National Press Foundation award.
♦ June 3-August 5, 2011: Selected photos on exhibit at the Exit Art gallery in New York as part of the gallery’s Contemporary Slavery exhibition.
♦ March 26, 2011: Represented The Wall Street Journal in a presentation at Yale Law School to discuss personal privacy and the online advertising business.
♦ September 25, 2010: Spoke about my friendship in India with Danny Pearl at Music for Humanity, a concert commemorating Danny’ life and work.
View a video of these remarks, which begin about a minute in.
♦ July 1, 2010: “Famed Liner Steers Clear of Scrapyard” is published in the WSJ, breaking the news that the tiny group of ship lovers I wrote about earlier on Page One are about to pull off the impossible and buy their beloved SS United States superliner.
♦ April/May, 2010: The WSJ’s Iran coverage, “Hearts, Minds and Blood,” wins the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding foreign correspondence, the Overseas Press Club award for outstanding reporting abroad, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Payne Award for Ethics.
♦ April 8, 2010: Represented the WSJ on a Nieman Foundation panel on fairness in journalism.
♦ Oct. 3, 2009: Interview on WABC’s “John Batchelor Show” about the SS United States:
Jesse | at | JessePesta | dot | com
Copyright © 2004-2014 Jesse Pesta
All rights reserved
Portrait: Jennifer MacFarlane